This article follows-up on our previous Blog Post exploring the “jargon” of the EU Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), an ambitious political action plan for chemicals regulation in the EU that was released in October 2020.

Today, we are digging into another key concept of the CSS: the concept of “one substance, one assessment” (hereafter referred to as “OSOA“), which is essential for the Commission, and more generally for the European Union, to simplify and consolidate the chemicals legal framework.


Continue Reading Simplifying and Recasting the Assessment of Chemicals in the EU: A Challenge for the Administrative Puzzle

There is an undisputed trend of increased and strengthened human rights and environmental due diligence laws (for example, see our previous Blogs here and here).  A related trend is the rise of import controls to supplement such measures.  For example, the United States’ Customs and Border Protection agency have in recent times increasingly issued Withhold Release Orders to detain shipments of products suspected to be produced, in whole or in part, using forced labour (for example, see our Legal Updates here and here).

The European Commission is now assessing the adoption of action and enforcement instruments to tackle forced labour. Its consideration of such mechanisms coincides with the forthcoming legislative proposals from the European Commission on Sustainable Corporate Governance (SCG), a key element of which includes an obligation for corporations to undertake human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD).

A coalition of NGOs, including Anti-Slavery International and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice, have released an NGO position paper raising some key considerations in the development of potential import control measures in tandem with a mandatory corporate HREDD obligation.


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: NGOs Set Out Key Considerations for EU Import Controls to Tackle Forced Labour

The EU has presented its proposal for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). The mechanism is closely aligned with the EU’s emissions trading scheme and the purpose of the CBAM is to be able to increase the EU’s internal carbon price without pushing production offshore. This risk of “carbon leakage” arises when energy-intensive

As our readers are well aware, climate change and stakeholder litigation is on a global uptrend as it has never been before. Whether claims are brought against governments or companies, whether these claims are accepted or dismissed, and whether they involve domestic or cross-border matters, there is already a plethora of precedents worldwide involving climate issues and stakeholder litigation, each playing their own part on the grand scheme of legal measures and instruments available for fighting global warming. However, only a handful of these precedents are as significant as the decision issued on May 26th, 2021, by the Hague District Court in Milieudefensie et. al. v. Royal Dutch Shell.

In summary, the Hague District Court has ordered Shell to reduce its CO2 emission levels by 45% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. In this Blog Post, we provide an overview on this decision and on how it may be a game changer when it comes to climate change and stakeholder litigation.


Continue Reading Unprecedented Decision Sets a Milestone for Climate Change Litigation Cases: What’s Next?

This article is the first in a series, which we introduced in a previous Blog Post, exploring the “jargon” of the EU Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), an ambitious political action plan for chemicals regulation in the EU that was released in October 2020.

As part of this political initiative toward a profound reshape of the existing chemicals regulatory framework, the concept of “safe and sustainable by design” is fairly innovative and could well become one of the pillars of chemicals regulation in the EU. In a nutshell, the Commission calls in its CSS for a “transition” to chemicals that are safe and sustainable by design in order to reconcile the societal value of chemicals with human health and planetary boundaries. The Commission presents the “sustainable-by-design” concept as a holistic approach to achieve these objectives: it seeks to integrate “safety, circularity, energy efficiency and functionality of chemicals, materials, products, and processes throughout their life cycle and minimiz[e] the environmental footprint”. It is aimed at constituting an overarching concept, i.e., a guiding principle in the regulation of the chemicals sector.

This ambitious goal will have important concrete consequences for the industry. At the same time the safe and sustainable by design approach is advocated by the EU executive as an opportunity for the European industry to act as frontrunner in a stammering race for the production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals.

Continue reading for more information on the current state of play regarding “safe and sustainable by design”, the development of this important concept and next steps for related regulatory and political action.


Continue Reading “Safe and Sustainable by Design”: The Inception of a Possible Game-Changer in the Regulation of Chemicals in the EU

On 21 April 2021, the EU Commission announced its proposal to extend existing sustainability reporting in a new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).  The proposal, which revises the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (the “NFRD“), will extend the reach of sustainability reporting to more companies and will cover more sustainability topics.

This is part of a wider, concerted effort by the EU to legislate for greater E, S and G reporting and accountability standards, like the EU’s proposed mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence law.  It is also part of a larger global trend: for example, New Zealand recently introduced a new Climate Disclosure Law (see our Blog Post on this here). Companies are increasingly embracing voluntary sustainability reporting but there are increased demands for mandatory reporting – the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for instance called for mandatory reporting in December last year. However companies’ standards of  voluntary reporting are of variable quality and often do not address the impacts of companies’ business activities on people and the environment.

Key aspects of the proposed Sustainability Reporting Directive:

  1. More companies would be asked to report on sustainability, up from 11,000 previously to nearly 50,000.
  2. The “double materiality perspective” is further reinforced – that is companies have to report on the impact of their business activities on people and the planet across the full value chain, as well as the sustainability risks for the business itself, and to disclose the process for determining their material issues.
  3. Measurements of sustainability will be more consistent, reliable, and therefore comparable, for investors and other stakeholders.
  4. Timing is subject to change, but it is expected these measures would take effect in 2024, i.e. reporting on the financial year ending 2023.


Continue Reading EU Moves Toward Comprehensive Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

The EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability Towards a Toxic-Free Environment (CSS) announces the “new long term vision for the EU’s chemical policy’” intended to achieve a toxic-free environment through the “production and use of safe and sustainable chemicals”. In line with the objectives of the EU Green Deal, this ambitious political document is expected to deeply reshape the current EU chemicals regulatory framework for the next decade.

The Commission published the CSS in October 2020. It lays out more than 50 wide-ranging actions that will have a direct impact on the EU chemicals regulatory framework, listed for completion between 2020 and 2024. It is accompanied by a detailed Action Plan listing the key areas of action and the expected legislative initiatives and providing an indicative timing accordingly. We detailed some of the main initiatives regarding REACH and the CLP in a previous blog post, following the European Commission’s roadmap on the targeted revisions to REACH and CLP, which can be accessed here.

Continue reading for more details and analysis regarding the CSS and the future of sustainability in the EU chemicals industry.


Continue Reading Exploring the “Jargon” of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability: A Glance at the Future of Chemicals Regulation in the EU

The EU Green Deal announces a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment that should be achieved, among other ways, through ambitious actions against the most hazardous chemicals and enhanced engagement in innovation for the development of safe and sustainable alternatives. One of the first deliverables of this far-reaching policy program is the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), which involves important revisions of the existing EU chemicals legislation including the Chemicals Control Regulation (REACH) and the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (CLP).

REACH and the CLP are the two main instruments and actual cornerstones of the EU chemicals legislation. They will be simultaneously reopened and revised between now and the end of 2022, with the affirmed objective to improve the protection of people and the environment in line with the Green Deal’s ambition. While the CSS announces this revision and the reinforcement of the existing provision, it provides little clarity as to the exact scope of the revision plan. It is thus rather unclear how important such revisions are intended to be.

On May 4, 2021, the European Commission published two important roadmaps that provide insights on the intentions of the EU executive on the framework for the revised REACH and CLP. The Commission elaborates on the legal and regulatory options that it can consider. Although targeted, the options envisaged by the Commission will certainly lead to significant revisions to the REACH and CLP, and in fact may in some instances constitute a real shift in paradigm.

Continue reading for additional background on the roadmaps and the implications for REACH and CLP in the future.


Continue Reading EU Green Deal: EC Releases Roadmaps Toward an Ambitious Revision of REACH and CLP

EU legislators are being pressed to ensure that, as they progress plans for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence, they highlight the importance of companies identifying and mitigating corruption.

Global Witness and Transparency International EU published a report in April 2021 which highlights that, despite commitments from every EU country to tackle bribery and corruption, only three of 27 countries (France, Germany and Italy) have enacted legislation that requires companies to prevent and detect corruption.  The report proposes that the EU’s proposed mandatory human rights due diligence legislation should make it clear that companies should address the negative risks and impacts of corruption as part of a broader human rights and environmental due diligence obligation.


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: The Corruption Dimension

In a Report published in April 2021, The Circle, an NGO that champions equal rights and equal opportunities for women and girls, proposed an EU regulation specifically aimed at achieving a living wage for workers in the garment industry. As the fashion industry emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic – which has brought renewed attention to complex supply chains and the conditions of workers in garment factories – Jessica Simor QC, author of the Report, argues the need for a legal framework to protect garment workers from exploitation.

The proposal comes off the back of the EU’s commitment to introduce a mandatory human rights due diligence law, and other initiatives currently progressing at the EU-level, which indicate considerable political will to introduce measures that identify and remediate human rights harms in global supply chains.


Continue Reading Business and Human Rights: Fashion Focus – A Proposal for New EU Legislation on a Living Wage